About music

When someone lives in the experience of music, he is living in the image of his spiritual home. It naturally elevates the soul to feel this intimate relationship to its primal ground, and that is why the simplest souls are so receptive to music. A man then feels himself truly at home, and whenever he is lifted up through music he says to himself: “Yes, you come from other worlds, and in music you can experience your native place.” It was an intuitive knowledge of this that led Schopenhauer to assign to music a central place among the arts, and to say that the composer discerns with his spiritual ear the pulse-beat of the Will.

In music, man feels the echo of the inmost life of things, a life related to his own. Because feelings are the most inward part of the soul, and because they are related to the spiritual world and are indwelt by musical sound — that is why man, when he listens to music, lives in the pleasure of feeling himself in harmony with its tones, and in touch with the true home of his spirit.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 283 – THE OCCULT BASIS OF MUSIC – Cologne, 3 December 1906

Translated by Charles Waterman



Karma-Moral-Egoism (4 of 5)

When a process of infection arises in the human organism, the entire organism is seized by fever, by illness. If we translate this into terms applicable to the earth organism we can say that what occultism maintains is true: When something immoral is done anywhere on earth it amounts to the same thing for the whole earth organism as a little festering boil on the human body, which makes the whole organism sick. So that if a theft is committed on the earth the result is that the entire earth develops a kind of fever. This is not meant merely in a metaphorical sense. It is well-founded. The whole organism of the earth suffers from everything immoral and as individuals we can do nothing immoral without affecting the whole earth.

It is really a simple thought, yet people have a difficult time grasping it. But let those people who do not want to believe it just wait. Let one try to impress such thoughts upon our culture; let one try with these thoughts to appeal to the human heart, the human conscience. Whenever people anywhere act immorally their actions are a kind of infected boil for the whole earth and make the earth organism ill, and experience would show that tremendous moral impulses inhere in such knowledge.

One can preach morality as much as one likes; it will not help people one bit. But knowledge such as we have developed here would not seize hold of people merely as knowledge. If it found its way into the developing culture, if it streamed into the soul already in childhood, it would provide a tremendous moral impulse, for in the end no moral preachments have any real power to overwhelm, to convince the human soul. Schopenhauer is quite right when he says that to preach morality is easy but to establish it is difficult.  

To be continued

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 127 – The Significance of Spiritual Research For Moral Action – Bieleveld, 6 March 1911

Translated by Alan P. Cottrell, Ph.D.


Previously posted on April 24, 2018

If dogs could write

There is a creature familiar to us all that has a better sense of smell than you or I, namely the dog. Dogs have a much more delicate sense of smell than human beings. And you know to what use this is put nowadays. Think of the police dogs that through their sense of smell find persons who have run away after committing some crime. The dog picks up a scent at the spot where the crime was committed and follows it until it leads to the criminal. The dog has very delicate olfactory nerves. It is extremely interesting to study this fine sense-perception and to see how these olfactory nerves are connected with the rest of the dog’s organism. Behind its nose, in its brain the dog has a very interesting organ of smell. Its nose is only one part. The larger part of a dog’s organ of smell is situated behind the nose, in the brain.

Now let us compare the dog’s organ of smell with that of the human being. The dog has a brain that is clearly made for smelling, a brain that becomes an organ of smell. In the human being the greater part of this “smell-brain” has been transformed into an “intelligence-brain.” We understand things; the dog doesn’t understand things, he smells them. We understand them because at the place where the dog has his organ of smell, we have that organ transformed. Our organ of intelligence is a transformed organ of smell. In us there is only a tiny remnant left of this “smell-brain.” That is why our sense of smell is inferior to the dog’s. 

And so you can imagine that when a dog runs over the fields, he finds everything terribly interesting; so many smells come to him that if he were able to describe it, he would say the world is all smell. If among dogs there were a thinker like Schopenhauer, he would write interesting books!


Schopenhauer wrote a book called “The World as Will and Idea” — but he was a man and his organ of smell had become an organ of thinking. The dog could write a book called “The World as Will and Smell.” In the dog’s book there would be a great deal beyond the discernment of a human being, because while a human being forms an idea, a mental image of things, a dog smells them. And it is my private opinion that the dog’s book — if the dog were a Schopenhauer — would actually be more interesting than the book that Schopenhauer himself wrote!

Source : Rudolf Steiner – GA 354 – The Evolution of the Earth and Man and The Influence of the Stars – Lecture IX: The sense of smell – Dornach, 9th August, 1924

Translated by Gladys Hahn

Morality will be built on the foundations of spiritual knowledge — or it will not be built at all!

By deepening our contemplation of cosmic secrets — with which the secrets of human existence are connected — we shall learn to understand the nature of the man standing before us; we shall learn to silence our preconceptions and to feel and recognise the true qualities of the individual in question. The most important light that Spiritual Science can give will be the light it throws upon the human soul. Thereby sound social feelings, also those feelings of love which ought to prevail between human beings, will make their way into the world as a fruit of true spiritual knowledge. We shall recognise that our grasp of spiritual knowledge alone can help this fruit to grow and thrive. 

When Schopenhauer said: “To preach morality is easy; to establish morality is difficult”, he was giving expression to true insight. After all, it is not so very difficult to discover moral principles, neither is it difficult to preach morality. But to quicken the human soul at the point where spiritual knowledge can germinate and develop into true morality capable of sustaining life — that is what matters. Our attitude to spiritual knowledge can also establish within us the seeds of a truly human morality of the future. The morality of the future will either be built on the foundations of spiritual knowledge — or it will not be built at all!

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 141 – Between Death and Rebirth: Lecture One – Berlin, November 5, 1912


Drawing by Margitta Bieker

Morality cannot be established by ethical preachings (2 – End)

Notwithstanding this, morals are certainly not established by ethical teachings or moral sermons. Truly not. If morals could thus be founded there would be no immorality at the present day, for one might say that the whole of humanity would be overflowing with moral activities. For undoubtedly everyone has the opportunity of hearing the finest moral principles, since people are so fond of preaching them. 

But to know what one ought to do and what is morally right is of least importance compared with the fact that there should be within us impulses which, through their inward strength, their inward power, are themselves converted into moral actions, and thus express themselves externally. 

It is well known that ethical sermons do not produce this result. A moral foundation is laid when a man is guided to the source whence he must draw the impulses which shall supply him with forces leading to ethical activity.

Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 155 – Anthroposophical Ethics – I – Norrköping, 28th May, 1912 

Translated by Harry Collison



Previously posted on December 13, 2017